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Parliamentary Body in Bavaria Asks Reopening of Restitution Cases

The Committee on Petitions of the Bavarian Parliament unanimously approved a motion calling upon the Bavarian Government to reopen restitution cases that have already been closed through return to the original Jewish owner of the house, real estate or business involved.

The motion bears the official endorsement of all five party delegations in the Land-tag: the Social Democratic Party, the Free Democratic Party, the BHE refugee party, the Bavarian Party and the Christian Social Union. It urges the Federal Government to take appropriate measures “to avoid cases of obvious hardship in the future and to set to rights such cases of hardship as have occurred in the past.”

The hardship referred to is not that suffered by the expropriated and harassed Jews. It is the hardship complained of by the “Aryanizers,” the Germans who took over the Jewish property and had to return it after the war. Where they claim to have purchased in “good faith,” they as well as the motion demand full compensation from the Federal treasury. Within the framework of an imminent “equalization of domestic hardships” program, their chances are considered good.

The restitution laws promulgated by the Allies stipulate that property taken from the Jewish owner under Nazi pressure must be returned, regardless of the claimed “good faith” of the present holder, but provided the Jewish restitution claimant pays back the amount he himself received. This does cause inequities where the purchase price was confiscated by the Nazis and did not reach the Jewish owner, or in the relatively few instances of sales at third and fourth hand. There is hardly one of the approximately 100,000 “Aryanizers,” however, who does not pretend to have acted in “good faith.”

Last November, the Legal Committee of the Bavarian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution describing the mandatory return principle of restitution legislation as “contrary to public policy and morals” and asking for its abrogation. “Surely every judge knows,” Dr. Wuellner of the BHE refugee party told his fellow-legislators at the time, “that the restitution law, which has been forced upon us, does not constitute the will of the American people. It emanated from a certain group which has in the meantime had to take a back seat.”

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